“STAY AWAY FROM RESIDENCE” PROVISION IN RESTAINING ORDER DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN 100 YARDS AWAY
On May 9, 2017, in an unpublished case, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held that a provision in a court order enjoining a defendant to “stay away” from a certain residence did not necessarily require that the defendant remain 100 yards away from said residence.
The procedural history of the case was of a jury trial at which the defendant was convicted of violating the order by being 70 yards away from a certain residence, after police testified that it was a violation of the order for the defendant to be within 100 yards of the residence. The confusion probably came from the typical “stay at least 100 yards away from the individual” clause that is commonly part of restraining orders. In the boilerplate language of a 209A restraining order, there is a blank space for the judge to fill in any particular distance that the defendant must stay away from the protected person, but the paragraph for “stay away from their residence” does not have such a blank line to fill in. The police apparently assumed that the commonly used 100 yard-distance was the default distance if not otherwise specified.
The Appeals Court held that “had the jury understood that the order stated only that the defendant had to stay away from the residence, they might well have concluded that someone who remains seventy yards away from the residence did not violate that provision.” A new trial was ordered.
So, what does “stay away from their residence” mean? It’s probably best not to try to find out by “pushing the envelope.” If you have been charged with violating a 209A or 258E order, I would be pleased to assist in your defense.
Attorney Kevin D. Quinlan
2 South Main Street
P.O. Box 248
Uxbridge, MA 01569